Kids separated at border, hundreds in New York, face long-term trauma

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- One of the most troubling questions in the border separation crisis is how to reunite thousands of children with their parents who are sometimes several thousand miles apart.

Hundreds of them are now in New York.

The logistics are difficult under the best of circumstances, and the affects on the kids can be devastating. Pediatricians are already sounding the alarm of serious long-term emotional problems.

At Bellevue Hospital and Bronx Medical Center, doctors have seen at least 12 of the children in the last couple of weeks.

"Although we've been able to treat their medical diagnoses, they are sad, despondent," said Dr. Daran Kaufman, of NOrth Central Bronx Hospital. "And we are unable to treat the emotional scars they're presenting with."

Blanca Ortanes Lopez came to the United States illegally from El Salvador. The last time she spoke to her 8-year-old son Abel was two months ago.

"They told me to say goodbye to him," she said through a translator. "To this day, I don't know where he went."

We still don't have a head count on exactly how many children are in New York, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that 239 were at one facility in East Harlem. On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number could be as high as 700 state-wide. And he's furious over the Trump Administration's secrecy.

"I'm not even sure HHS knows, because there has been such a shuffling of children," he said. "Just tell me where they are. Why wouldn't you do that?"

Many of these children are now in foster homes in New York and might never be reunited with their biological parents.

"Even with this executive order, there's no single thing that speaks to the process in which there will be reunification of parents with their children," Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi said.

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